The Late Triassic Yanchang Formation (Fm) is a major target of drilling for hydrocarbons in the Ordos Basin. Although most of the early focus on this thick succession of lacustrine rocks has been the dominant deltaic sandstones and siltstones, which act as local reservoirs of oil and gas, more recent consideration has been given to the organic-rich mudstone source rocks. We used modern chemostratigraphic analysis to define vertical facies successions in two closely spaced cores through the Chang 7 Member, the primary source rock for the Yanchang hydrocarbon system. We used integrated high-resolution X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction measurements to define four dominant facies. Variations in stable carbon isotopes mimic facies stacking patterns, suggesting that terrigenous organic matter (although minor in volume) is associated with the arkoses and sandstones, whereas aquatic organic matter is dominant in the mudstones. Facies stacking patterns define three major depositional cycles and parts of two others, each defined by basal mudstone facies that document basin flooding and deepening (i.e., flooding surfaces). Unconfined compressive strength measurements correlate with clay mineral abundance and organic matter. Comparisons of core attributes with wireline logs indicate that although general variations in clay mineral volumes (i.e., mudstone abundance) can be discerned from gamma-ray logs, organic-matter distribution is best defined with density or resistivity logs. These findings, especially those established between the core and log data, provide a powerful linkage between larger scale facies patterns and smaller scale studies of key reservoir attributes, such as pore systems, mineralogy, diagenesis, rock mechanics, hydrocarbon saturation, porosity and permeability, and flow parameters. This first application of modern chemostratigraphic techniques to the Yanchang Fm reveals the great promise of applying these methods to better understand the complex facies patterns that define this lacustrine basin and the variations in key reservoir properties that each facies displays.
- Received July 9, 2016.
- Revision received September 18, 2016.
- Accepted October 6, 2016.